While I like the look, feel and overall experience of printed books, I've also been seduced by the convenience of having vast virtual stacks of eBooks instantly available on my PC, iPad and Samsung smartphone.
I also realize that many other readers want to save space, time and perhaps money (and take advantage of cool new features) by shunning slices of dehydrated dead tree mush in favor of books made of bytes. It's also great to be able to supply books to readers in any part of the world that has Internet access, even if there are no nearby bookstores and the cost of shipping books is prohibitive. (One of my eBooks was produced because of a request by a potential reader on an island in the Pacific Ocean.)
By not catering to readers' desires, I may be missing sales and disappointing people.
Over the last few months, I made most of my books available in the PDF format, because it was extremely easy to do, cost me nothing, and the PDF pages perfectly represent the look of my printed pages. I also produced several eBooks that do not yet exist as pBooks, and may never become pBooks.
Alas, despite my affection for PDF, it is just one of many formats (and perhaps the least important of the three major formats) that eBooks are produced in.
Although we are not living through a "format war" like the bad old days of 8-track vs. cassette audiotapes, or Betamax vs. VHS videotapes, the eBook formats seem likely to peaceably coexist for a long time, and I don't want to sit on the sidelines waiting for one to win.
I was reluctant to publish in the "mobi" format used by Kindles, and the EPUB format used by B&N Nooks, Sony Readers and other devices.
With a novel or other book that is all or mostly text, that's no big deal. My books, however, tend to have lots of graphic images, and I was horrified by the prospect of them showing up in the wrong places.
Mobi and EPUB books are reformatted to remove page numbering and headers (which I can live without), but I hate the way the pages look when readers enlarge the type on narrow pages, causing terrible word spacing, as with Treasure Island, above.
Perhaps because of this, J.K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has stated that there will be no e-versions of her books. (Maybe she’ll change her mind. It took a long time before Beatle songs were available on iTunes.)
Outskirts apparently makes no money from the actual sale of Kindle books. It says, "your profit will be directly deposited into your checking account by Amazon, without any involvement by (or portion for) Outskirts Press. In other words, your Kindle sales are YOUR Kindle sales."
- Lulu seems to change its policies more often than some people change underwear.
- "The ePub conversion takes 6-8 weeks. In some instances conversion may take longer." That's a potential deal-killer.
- "In the case where the complexity of the manuscript file requires work outside the scope of our service, we reserve the right to . . . do the conversion with a minimum charge of $100 an hour. That's a potential deal-killer.
- "As there is a great deal of work done to evaluate the files before the full conversion is processed, there are no refunds on this service. In the event more work is needed to convert your file, you may incur additional fees. That's a potential deal-killer.
- "Creating an ePub version of your book will not guarantee distribution on 3rd party external e-readers. That's a potential deal-killer.
- "Books which contain lots of charts, formulas, tables, and images can be converted, but the process will take longer, is more expensive, and may not yield optimal results. That's a potential deal-killer.
Lulu is a company I generally dislike and disrespect because of the poor quality of many of its printed books and the cynicism of the Lulu boss. Bob Young told Publishers Weekly that “We publish a huge number of really bad books.”
- However, the Lulu eBook publishing system for PDF books is free, extremely easy to use, and profitable for the author. On an eBook that sells for $5, Lulu keeps just $1.
- The critical weak point about selling PDF books on Lulu's website -- or selling any books on Lulu's website -- is that approximately zero people go to the site to buy books. It ain't Amazon. Or even Borders. If you have books for sale on Lulu.com, and I have nine books there, you will have to drive traffic to Lulu.
After my approval, my eBook was immediately available from the company's website, and it took just a few days to be on sale at Amazon and B&N. After a week, it was available on lots of eBook sites, including important American bookstores like Powell's, and even bookseller websites in England and Australia.
I highly recommend eBookIt.com.